16/06/2020 10:00 BST

Tulisa Breaks Silence On Misha B’s Video About Her X Factor Experiences

The former judge has responded after the singer opened up about her time on the ITV talent show.

Tulisa Contostavlos has apologised for publicly calling out former X Factor contestant Misha B on the show in 2011, but claimed her comments were not “racially motivated”.

Over the weekend, Misha filmed an hour-long Instagram live video about her time on the talent show, and its effects on her life and mental health in the years that followed.

Most notably, she addressed an incident which saw her accused of ‘bullying’ other contestants live on air by judges Louis Walsh and Tulisa. 

Speaking about the exchange in question, Misha said: “If you go back and watch the clip carefully, and I’ve gone back and watched the clip carefully, this woman had every line scripted before she even opened up her mouth. I wasn’t fooled. I’m not fooled. I know what it is here. I know exactly what it is here. And, you see, back in 2011 they got away with it. They got away with so much shit.

“’Feisty’, [Tulisa] threw, followed by ‘mean’... Now I know that I am not the only one here that has heard those words. ‘Feisty’, ‘mean’. These are like the common words that people use to describe Black women. She then went on to say something along the lines of ‘seeing that some of the things that I say could come across as mean’.

“This woman had spent zero time with me. The only conversation this woman had with me was after this all happened, when she gave me a very half-arsed apology. Not the words ‘I’m sorry’, but ‘I never meant to do you no harm’. The damage is done.”

On Monday night, Tulisa uploaded a video response to Misha’s comments, apologising for having “called her out publicly”, but insisting that accusations the incident was – in her words – “racially motivated” are “ludicrous”.

I’m making this video in response to a video Misha B has done, and also a lot of false accusations that I’m seeing online,” she began. “Now, I’m not taking away from the fact of how Misha feels. I accept that she is entitled to her opinion and I’m sorry if she feels that that situation was racially motivated. I can only speak from my side of the situation which I can say it was 100% not.

“One thing I regret is calling her out publicly the way that I did. If I was a person that I am today, who’s more emotionally intelligent, who has more life experience, I would have handled it in a very different way. And that I am truly sorry for. But to say and make claims – I’m not saying she is but I’m seeing people doing it online – that it was racially motivated is ludicrous.”

She continued: “Let me explain to you what happened. There’d been an accumulation of things that Misha had done to other contestants and my contestants backstage. She had made two of my acts cry. One of them being on the night that I made those comments.

“Afterwards, backstage, she asked me ‘why did you do that?’. And I said, ‘why did you do what you did to my acts?’. To this day I didn’t find her excuse reasonable. I still don’t agree with it. I called a lot of people out on that show, white, Black, tall, short, it’s nothing to do with skin colour, I was protecting my acts. And if somebody does some nasty stuff, whether it be on that show or not, I’m going to call them out on it.

“It’s nothing to do with race. I didn’t wake up and go ‘I want to cause some drama for Misha B because of the colour of her skin’. She did some things that I felt I needed to pull her up on. These things were real, and they were happening. I was dealing with crying contestants backstage because of her actions.

“Now, I’m sure she’s not the same person – this was 10 years ago – just as I’m not the same person, to call her out in the way that I did,” Tulisa said. “I was a very feisty 22-year-old. I didn’t think of emotional consequences. But I can 100% tell you that race wasn’t even in the equation, it had nothing to do with race. These accusations are ludicrous.”

Mike Marsland via Getty Images

After a cut, Tulisa then addressed the Black Lives Matter movement more generally, stating: “I owe my life to Black people and to Black culture, from my career, to the music I make, to my very being, who I am as a person. I was the only white person in my friendship group growing up, my father was raised in Congo and Ethiopia to the age of 16. I’m very passionate about the Black Lives Matter movement.

“And when I spoke to my friends about what they think I should do, they told me to get educated. So that’s what I’m currently doing, before I start speaking up and doing what I can. I hope that this movement can put an end to the centuries of oppression, abuse, racism and [the] corrupt system we are a part of. But please, believe me when I tell you, I do not have a racist bone in my body.”

In response to Misha’s video, an X Factor spokesperson said: “We are very concerned to hear Misha’s comments regarding her experience on The X Factor in 2011. We are currently looking into this matter and are reaching out to Misha to discuss the important issues she has raised. The welfare of contestants is our priority and we are committed to diversity and equality.”

HuffPost UK also contacted a representative for Louis Walsh after Misha B’s video, who declined to comment.

Misha also spoke about the effects X Factor had on her mental health, explaining: “What I didn’t understand was that that experience, that trauma, had changed me as a person. It changed me. I didn’t trust anyone. Everyone asks me, ‘Misha, where have you been? What’s been going on?’ I’ve been battling. I’ve been healing. I’ve been working on self.

“I started therapy in 2012. I’m still having therapy now. Shout out to all my therapists, you’re the greatest, honestly. If it wasn’t for your patience, kindness, understanding and your services... life would be very different right now. You’d be looking at a different Misha B right now.”

Ken McKay/Talkback Thames/Shutterstock
Misha B performing on The X Factor in 2011

In his 2018 autobiography, former X Factor judge Gary Barlow addressed the show’s treatment of Misha, claiming producers had deliberately stirred up drama for the tabloid press. 

He wrote: “About half an hour before the show goes live, the producers would come in and they’d go ‘Oh my god. That Misha. She’s such a bully. Can’t believe it. She is such a bully. In fact, you know what? You should say it. You should say it on air. She’s just bullied everyone all week’.”

Useful websites and helplines

Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.

Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill).

CALM (the Campaign Against Living Miserably) offer a helpline open 5pm-midnight, 365 days a year, on 0800 58 58 58, and a webchat service.

The Mix is a free support service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email help@themix.org.uk

Rethink Mental Illness offers practical help through its advice line which can be reached on 0300 5000 927 (Monday to Friday 10am-4pm). More info can be found on rethink.org.